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Objection! West Slope Towns, Residents File Protests to Roan Drilling

July 29, 2008

Denver, CO - Local town governments, thousands of citizens and several public interest groups are filing formal objections to a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) decision to allow drilling for natural gas on the Roan Plateau. At least five West Slope towns and 13,000 individuals are expected to file protests against a lease sale scheduled for August. The public comment period ends at midnight Wednesday.

Steve Smith, with The Wilderness Society, is based in Glenwood Springs. He wonders why there's so much pressure to drill the Roan when so much other land is available for energy exploration.

"These should be the last places we consider leasing and drilling, not be rushing into them right away, right now."

Smith says the Roan is an important home to fish and game, including cutthroat trout, adding that wildlife resources bring important recreation and tourist dollars to the state.

"It's also just a really lovely, high, forested respite kind of a place that many people enjoy visiting."

Smith says with so much energy development happening now on the West Slope, there's time to take a breather.

"We can afford to step back. It's not necessary to rush ahead to lease this particular place. Indeed, we should wait and learn more from the gas drilling that's going on today."

Smith contends that the federal government has yet to analyze the environmental impacts from drilling the area, even though the BLM says its plan provides adequate environmental protections.

Eric Mack/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - CO